SFMTA Nixes Protected Bike Lanes on Townsend

If you’ve ever biked, walked or taken transit on Townsend Street — especially during commute times — you know that it’s a mess. Every single day thousands of people dodge double-parked Uber and Lyft vehicles while biking over marble-sized gravel on decade-old painted bike lanes. Meanwhile countless more walk next to bus and taxi traffic because they don’t have sidewalks. These conditions are unacceptable and recent actions by SFMTA leadership have all but condemned Townsend to exist in this state for the foreseeable future.

Join us as we demand immediate action from the SFMTA. Read our letter to SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin below and write your own to demand that plans for protected bike lanes are restored on Townsend.

Where’s the Fix for Townsend?

To Director Reiskin:

On behalf of the 10,000-plus members of the SF Bicycle Coalition, I am writing to strongly urge you and the SFMTA to reverse the decision to scrap the Townsend Corridor Improvement Project and deliver physically protected bike lanes here by the end of the year.

People biking on Townsend contend with abysmal paving conditions, an unprotected bike lane, and a constant queue of buses, Ubers and Lyfts parked in the bike lane. Despite some of the worst conditions for people biking in San Francisco, Townsend is a crucial connector between Caltrain and other bicycle network corridors for thousands of people biking daily.

As these thousands of people brave the mess on Townsend every single day, the SFMTA is quietly backing away from its commitments to provide crucial safety improvements along this high-injury corridor. What happened to the promise to create a street where all modes of travel are separated into “comfortable and intuitive spaces?” San Franciscans deserve better than empty words.

A project years in the making, the re-design of Townsend was nearing completion. Stakeholders and daily users had galvanized around a design which, up until last week, was proudly displayed on the SFMTA’s website, including a protected bike lane for the entirety of Townsend. Last Friday, these designs were unceremoniously replaced with a message stating that the “project will no longer be moving forward.” [June 28 update: The SFMTA has already changed the website in response to your letters. Keep it up! Here’s what the website looked like yesterday.] With little to no notice, the SFMTA scrapped a project that was due to be in the ground in just over six months. This reversal represents betrayals of the SFMTA’s commitments to Vision Zero, to the work of the SFMTA staff who worked on this project, and to members of the public who gave input on this project and worked to see it constructed.

I call on you to promptly reverse this wrong and reinstate the Townsend Corridor Improvement Project. If the SFTMA can’t deliver a project like this, I have little hope that the San Francisco will be able to meet any of its important transportation goals from emission reduction to Vision Zero.

Brian Wiedenmeier

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